GROUP: WEEK 2 (Path dependency and colonization)

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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Brice Painter

Brigitte Murad

due: Monday May 22nd 2006   


Blog week 1 democracy course:  Path dependency theorists believe that once down a particular development path, there are considerable costs to go back and change the path, hence we can trace political dynamics in a country to events and decisions made in the past.  We want you to evaluate the contemporary differences and similarities between the USA and Argentina based on the different patterns of colonization.  You have read “the Campaign” and have heard about the city.  You will here more on our tour on Thursday and in lectures.  7 groups of 3 and one group of 4.  As with all blogs, inform yourselves by talking to locals about the issue, using course readings and class discussion.  Be thoughtful.


       The path dependency theory essentially states that past decisions and sequence of events is a direct cause of what one currently experiences.  Sometimes these small, and ´random’ events lead one down a particular path which becomes harder to change overtime. For this reason it emphasizes the importance of past history, and sequence of decisions in the role that it plays in the modern terms, focusing that the events occurring today do not solely depend on the decisions made today.

         The reasons for colonization in the United States as compared to Argentina differ dramatically. The former primarily comprised of pilgrims, whose primary purpose was to escape oppression. Their intentions were to stay long term in the U.S., to permanently reside, to raise their families, and to develop the country. With this long-term outlook they had vested interest in developing a formal government, as well as governing themselves. The cultivation of the land was not perceived as a means for short term gains, but rather a long term investment, one in which larger profits could be made from exports.

         The long term outlook that many had when colonizing the United States impacted the political structure tremendously. The formation of a formal government from the beginning has allowed us ¨first mover advantages¨, and time to gradually change and perfect this system. Since most of those who colonized the U.S. had a vested interest in the development of the country, various political views and opinions is what differentiates individuals politically. Additionally this long-term focus promoted interest in constant expansion resulting in widespread wealth and development of the entire nation, rather than one primary area.

         In contrast Argentina’s colonization consisted primarily of immigrants from typically ´white’ Europe. These immigrants were primarily interested in the short term gains and quick profits to return back home to the family. This view led to a nomadic lifestyle, without permanent settlements, or a ´feeling of home and belongingness´. The immigrants had no vested interest in the financial stability, or long-term welfare of the country. With this outlook many of the immigrants tended to congregate around the rivers (in areas such as Buenos Aires), where trade was more facile, discouraging true widespread colonization, growth, and development.

         The lack of a long term commitment, and a true vested interest in the well being of the country, as well as the nomadic lifestyle predominately seen in the early stages of colonization into Argentina had a large impact on the political structure as well. These factors led to social class divergence, consisting of the elites and upper class who were interested in politics primarily as means for control, and those of the lower working class. This is at the heart of what differentiated individuals and their political ideologies.

          Although the differences in the colonization of these two countries did dramatically differ, and the repercussions of these differences can be clearly seen, there tends to be one consistency that exists between the two countries.  Both countries relied, and still do rely heavily on agricultural exports, such as raw food, wine, and animals. Although the U.S. immigrants had a long-term prospective, and those of Argentina had a more short-term prospective, both relied on these exports as means of revenue, and still continues to play an important role in the economic stability of both countries.

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